Social Justice Blog

<< return to main

The Big Sister...

Posted: August 20, 2015

I am one of the, “big sisters” in my family of six. I am the third oldest. In my role, I was always looking out for my younger siblings. Last week at Holy Rosary, I met another, “big sister”… My guess is that she was 10 years old. She had, “it all going on.” When I started talking to her, I noticed that she was holding two chapter books. St. Patrick’s, as part of our on-going effort to lift up literacy in the Holy Rosary neighborhood, has started collecting books for the children who join us for a meal at Loaves & Fishes.

When I asked her about the chapter books, she said that she loves to read. I could tell that she was very proud. She showed me the two books she selected. When I asked where her younger brother’s books were, she told me, “He needs to wait until he has eaten his dinner.” I said that the books were being snapped up quickly, so I suggested that they go and select a couple of books for him too!

When I asked who brought them to dinner, she said in a matter of fact way that, “she and her brother were hungry so they walked across the street for dinner.” Her younger brother couldn’t have been more than eight years old. I had to stop for a couple of minutes to let it to sink in. I was amazed at how savvy and resilient this older sister was to find a way for them to get a hot meal.

This moment made me reflect on the meals my children shared with our good friends across the street. They were like family to us when our children were growing up. There were meals, after school snacks and lots of sleep overs. They were always running back and forth. I remember one afternoon when my children were gone for an after school activity, our neighbor Amy came over for some brownies. My husband came home from work and was wondering why when all of our children were gone, our neighbor Amy was sitting at the bar in the kitchen eating some brownies I had just baked. I said, “we are enjoying an after school snack.”

In our neighborhood, there is a strong sense of community. Everyone looks out for the children. They ride bikes, scooter, play yard games and enjoy the beautiful playground and park right by our house. There is a sense of safety and security for all of our children. All of our neighbors care about what is happening in the neighborhood.

Today in many neighborhoods with families struggling with poverty, children take on the role of adults. It made me sad to think that no one was at home making a meal for this brother and sister. I also wondered about the circumstances that forced two hungry children to go and find dinner in a church basement with a bunch of strangers.

As I have reflected on this encounter, I believe this brother and sister are lucky to have each other. The younger brother also had a big sister to look out for him. But, I wondered who will look out for this girl? Who will make sure that she is safe? Who will encourage her to pursue her love of reading?

I don’t know the answer to these questions. But, I do know as people of faith that it matters that we show up every month to bring a hot meal, a smile and a book to children who live in that neighborhood. Last month, we served 75 children. This encounter reminds me of the good work we are doing. And, we can’t do it without your help.

We are grateful to everyone who donates to Social Justice to help us buy the ingredients for our monthly meal at Holy Rosary and St. Stephen’s. We are grateful to our team who shops, prepares, serves and cleans up meals with joy! We are grateful for our driver of the carpool! Thanks to our book lovers for donating books! We will bring them each month.

Sometimes it takes a big sister to make things happen! We also know that big sisters need help! Thanks to everyone at St. Patrick’s who has love to share…

—Maura Schnorbach